Facebook Says Russian Firms 'Scraped' Data, Some for Facial Recognition

5 days ago
An anonymous reader quotes the New York Times: On the same day Facebook announced that it had carried out its biggest purge yet of American accounts peddling disinformation, the company quietly made another revelation: It had removed 66 accounts, pages and apps linked to Russian firms that build facial recognition software for the Russian government. Facebook said Thursday that it had removed any accounts associated with SocialDataHub and its sister firm, Fubutech, because the companies violated its policies by scraping data from the social network. "Facebook has reason to believe your work for the government has included matching photos from individuals' personal social media accounts in order to identify them," the company said in a cease-and-desist letter to SocialDataHub that was dated Tuesday and viewed by The New York Times... As Facebook is taking a closer look at its own products amid increasing scrutiny and public outcry, it is increasingly finding examples of companies that have been exploiting its global social network for questionable ends.... Artur Khachuyan, the 26-year-old chief executive of SocialDataHub and Fubutech, said in an interview Friday that Fubutech scraped data from the web, particularly Google search and the Russian search engine Yandex, to build a database of Russian citizens and their images that the government can use for facial recognition. "We don't know exactly what they do with it," he said.... At one point in a 30-minute phone interview, he said the Russian Defense Ministry was a client but later said he could not name Fubutech's government clients. The two Russian companies have been around for over four years, "relying in part on Facebook data," the Times reports. "At the top of the SocialDataHub's website, there is a single line: 'We know everything about everybody.'"

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EditorDavid

Why Someone Put a Giant, Inflatable Bitcoin Rat on Wall Street

5 days 1 hour ago
There's now a giant, inflatable rat covered in crypto code across from the Federal Reserve. An anonymous reader quotes Fortune: The bitcoin rat, first noted on Reddit, was created by Nelson Saiers, an artist and former hedge fund manager, according to Coindesk. The art installation, which appeared earlier this week and is temporary, is intended as much as a tribute to bitcoin's creator Satoshi Nakamoto as much as it is a condemnation of the Fed and critics of cryptocurrencies. "The sculpture's supposed to kind of reflect the spirit of Satoshi and what he's trying to do," Saiers told Coindesk, who noted the rat image was inspired in part by another titan of traditional finance. "Warren Buffett called bitcoin 'rat poison squared' but if the Fed's a rat, then maybe rat poison is a good thing," he said... "This is a very iconic image for protest," Saiers told blockchain news site Breaker. "Somewhere in the heart of bitcoin is a bit of protest of big bank bailouts." That idea appeared to be lost on some Redditors, who claimed they spotted the bitcoin rat in the wilds of Wall Street but didn't immediately see its significance. "I walked past it today," one wrote. "Had no idea it was about Bitcoin." "It's cool, but people walking by won't understand it," said another. "I don't even understand it. Needs a BTC logo or something."

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EditorDavid

America Finally Abandons Plan To Convert Plutonium Bombs Into Nuclear Fuel

5 days 2 hours ago
MOX hoped to convert plutonium from Cold War bombs into fuel for nuclear power plants, but even though the project was about 70% complete, Washington has pulled the plug. Slashdot reader Mr. Dollar Ton shared this story from Reuters: The Department of Energy told Senate and House of Representatives committees in May that MOX, a type of specialized nuclear recycling plant that has never been built in the United States, would cost about $48 billion more than the $7.6 billion already spent on it. Instead of completing MOX, the Trump administration, like the Obama administration before it, wants to blend the 34 tonnes of deadly plutonium -- enough to make about 8,000 nuclear weapons -- with an inert substance and bury it underground in New Mexico's Waste Isolation Pilot Plant. Burying the plutonium would cost nearly $20 billion over the next two decades and would require 400 jobs at Savannah River, the Department of Energy has estimated.

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EditorDavid

RIP Greg Stafford, a Fundamental Personage of the RPG Industry

5 days 3 hours ago
"The first published RPG was Dungeons & Dragons, shortly followed by some other imitative games," Greg Stafford once said. "Chaosium, however, was never content to imitate but published games that were original in style of play, content and design." Greg Stafford died Thursday at the age of 71. Long-time Slashdot reader argStyopa shares this memorial from Chaosium's Michael O'Brien. As one of the greatest game designers of all time; winner of too many awards to count; and a friend, mentor, guide, and inspiration to generations of gamers, "the Grand Shaman of Gaming" influenced the universe of tabletop gaming beyond measure. Greg founded The Chaosium in 1975... Under his leadership, the company quickly became renowned for its originality and creativity, and was responsible for introducing numerous things to the hobby that are standards today. As John Wick (7th Sea, Legend of the Five Rings) memorably said, "The older I get, the more I hear young RPG designers say 'Never been done before!' And then I just point at something Greg Stafford did a few decades ago." Greg's work in roleplaying games, board games, and fiction have been acclaimed as some of the most engaging and innovative of all time. There will doubtless be many valedictory messages over the coming days from the countless people that Greg inspired and enthused across his many interests and passions -- Glorantha, Oaxaca, King Arthur, shamanism, mythology and more. For now, we leave you with the words of the Myth maker himself, speaking at the 2018 ENnies Awards ceremony, his last public engagement "When I started Chaosium in 1975... we never imagined, truly, that it would reach the magnitude that it has today," Stafford tells the audience. "It went through a long period of being some strange thing that just random geeks did... I figure when role-playing games get on The X-Files and The Simpsons, we've made it..." ""It's true that it's not us. We're a bunch of obsessive-compulsive, detail-minded game designers, people looking desperately for a job that doesn't make them wear a tie to work, artists who would've never had a market without our industry. We all do a lot of work, but in fact we're just a small handful of people, and truly the phenomenon that we have today is not due to us, but is due to you, the fans and the players. We really appreciate everything that you've done... I want to say thank you to all of you fans." The forum at Basic Roleplaying Central has started a condolences thread.

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EditorDavid

Scientists Are Getting Seriously Worried About Synthetic Smallpox

5 days 4 hours ago
An anonymous reader quotes ScienceAlert: Earlier this year, scientists published a paper describing how they pieced together segments of DNA in order to bring back a previously eradicated virus called horsepox. The paper, written by two University of Alberta researchers and the co-founder of a New York pharmaceutical company, was controversial because, as various experts told the magazine Science, someone could use a very similar process to bring back a related virus: smallpox. Smallpox, you'll recall, killed hundreds of millions of people before the World Health Organization declared it eradicated in 1980. That was the result of a long vaccination campaign — so the idea of piecing the virus back together from bits of DNA raises the specter of a horrifying pandemic. Two journals rejected the paper before PLOS One, an open access peer-reviewed journal, published it. Critics argue that the paper not only demonstrates that you can synthesize a deadly pathogen for what Science reported was about US$100,000 in lab expenses, but even provides a slightly-too-detailed-for-comfort overview of how to do it. Some of the horsepox scientists' coworkers are still pretty upset about this. PLOS One's sister Journal, PLOS Pathogens, just published three opinion pieces about the whole flap, as well as a rebuttal by the Canadian professors. Overall, everyone's pretty polite. But you get the sense that microbiologists are really, really worried about someone reviving smallpox. MIT biochemist Kevin Esvelt, for instance, wrote on Thursday that the threat is so grim that we shouldn't even talk about it.

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EditorDavid

The US Grounds All F-35 Jets

5 days 5 hours ago
Thelasko tipped us off to this story. NBC News reports: The U.S. Navy, Air Force and Marines -- as well as 11 international partners who participated in the program -- grounded all F-35 fighters on Thursday as part of an ongoing investigation into a jet that crashed in Beaufort, South Carolina, late last month. "The pilot in that incident ejected safely but the aircraft was destroyed," reports the BBC, adding "the problem has already been identified as faulty fuel tubes. Once these are checked or replaced the aircraft will be back in the air." The U.S. has spent more than $320 billion to build their fleet of 2,400-plus F-35 jets, according to a recent GAO report -- or roughly $130 million for each one of the planes. The BBC calls it "the largest and most expensive weapons program of its type in the world."

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EditorDavid

It Was Flat Sales That Helped Microsoft Become America's #5 PC Maker

5 days 6 hours ago
An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica: Microsoft was the fifth-biggest PC maker in the U.S. in the third quarter of this year, according to industry advisory firm Gartner. The top spot in the U.S. belongs to HP, with about 4.5 million machines sold, ahead of Dell at 3.8 million, Lenovo at 2.3 million, and Apple at 2 million. The gap between fourth and fifth is pretty big -- Microsoft sold only 0.6 million Surface devices last quarter -- but it suggests that Microsoft's PC division is heading in the right direction, with sales 1.9 percent higher than the same quarter last year. The company pushed down to sixth place was Acer. The current quarter should be better still; the Surface Pro, Surface Laptop, and Surface Studio have all been given hardware refreshes which, when combined with the always-busy holiday season, should stimulate higher sales. Globally, both Gartner and IDC reported a flat PC market (up 0.1 percent in Gartner's view, down 0.9 percent in IDC's), after the previous quarter's modest growth. "The PC market continued to be driven by steady corporate PC demand, which was driven by Windows 10 PC hardware upgrades," said one Gartner analyst. In defining what constitutes a PC, Gartner includes notebooks and "premium" ultramobile devices -- but does not include iPads or Chromebooks.

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EditorDavid

With Sales Flat, Microsoft Becomes America's #5 PC Maker

5 days 6 hours ago
An anonymous reader quotes Ars Technica: Microsoft was the fifth-biggest PC maker in the U.S. in the third quarter of this year, according to industry advisory firm Gartner. The top spot in the U.S. belongs to HP, with about 4.5 million machines sold, ahead of Dell at 3.8 million, Lenovo at 2.3 million, and Apple at 2 million. The gap between fourth and fifth is pretty big -- Microsoft sold only 0.6 million Surface devices last quarter -- but it suggests that Microsoft's PC division is heading in the right direction, with sales 1.9 percent higher than the same quarter last year. The company pushed down to sixth place was Acer. The current quarter should be better still; the Surface Pro, Surface Laptop, and Surface Studio have all been given hardware refreshes which, when combined with the always-busy holiday season, should stimulate higher sales. Globally, both Gartner and IDC reported a flat PC market (up 0.1 percent in Gartner's view, down 0.9 percent in IDC's), after the previous quarter's modest growth. "The PC market continued to be driven by steady corporate PC demand, which was driven by Windows 10 PC hardware upgrades," said one Gartner analyst. In defining what constitutes a PC, Gartner includes notebooks and "premium" ultramobile devices -- but does not include iPads or Chromebooks.

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EditorDavid

150 San Franciscans Explain How Tech Money Changed Their City

5 days 7 hours ago
DevNull127 writes: In a remarkable odyssey, documentary-maker Cary McClelland interviewed more than 150 San Francisco residents — including a tattoo artist, a longshoreman, a venture capitalist, and a pawnshop owner — to capture the real voices of a changing city, in a kind of oral history of the present. It becomes a magical "documentary without film... panoramic, complex — and surprisingly well-balanced," writes one reader, applauding the book's "dazzling omniscience." Legendary Silicon Valley marketer Regis McKenna speaks fondly of the days when young Steve Wozniak and Steve Jobs were dropping into his office, and despite the apparent challenges facing San Francisco, many people interviewed remained surprisingly hopeful. "Idexa, a German-born tattoo artist who'd hitchhiked to the city from Los Angeles as a teenager, says despite the new displacements happening today, 'It's also beautiful. There's been a lot of money put into the neighborhood and into the buildings. Buildings that would have fallen apart have been renovated. Oh, it's the end of the world soon. We're not the first generation who thinks that.' It's an almost poetic picture of San Francisco that proves the world isn't as simple — or as discouraging — as it's often made out to be, and the book's passionate purpose seems to spontaneously find its way into the words of each interview subject." "Until you're standing in front of someone and listening to them with your own ears, you're never going to understand them," says a survivor of one of California's recent wildfires. So Cary McClelland listens — writing in his introduction that his book asks us to hear the city of San Francisco speak in a chorus of voices, with a message for all the other cities. "The goal of the book," he says, "is to reflect people's subjective perspective, their experience — lived, visceral, emotional, intimate. The living-room experience..."

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FirehoseFavorites

A Future Where Everything Becomes a Computer Is As Creepy As You Feared

5 days 8 hours ago
schwit1 shares a report from The New York Times: More than 40 years ago, Bill Gates and Paul Allen founded Microsoft with a vision for putting a personal computer on every desk. [...] In recent years, the tech industry's largest powers set their sights on a new target for digital conquest. They promised wild conveniences and unimaginable benefits to our health and happiness. There's just one catch, which often goes unstated: If their novelties take off without any intervention or supervision from the government, we could be inviting a nightmarish set of security and privacy vulnerabilities into the world. And guess what. No one is really doing much to stop it. The industry's new goal? Not a computer on every desk nor a connection between every person, but something grander: a computer inside everything, connecting everyone. Cars, door locks, contact lenses, clothes, toasters, refrigerators, industrial robots, fish tanks, sex toys, light bulbs, toothbrushes, motorcycle helmets -- these and other everyday objects are all on the menu for getting "smart." Hundreds of small start-ups are taking part in this trend -- known by the marketing catchphrase "the internet of things" -- but like everything else in tech, the movement is led by giants, among them Amazon, Apple and Samsung. [American cryptographer and computer security professional Bruce Schneier] argues that the economic and technical incentives of the internet-of-things industry do not align with security and privacy for society generally. Putting a computer in everything turns the whole world into a computer security threat. [...] Mr. Schneier says only government intervention can save us from such emerging calamities. "I can think of no industry in the past 100 years that has improved its safety and security without being compelled to do so by government."

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BeauHD

Apple Inks $600 Million Deal To Acquire Assets and Talent From Dialog Semiconductor

5 days 11 hours ago
In an effort to build faster, more efficient chips, Apple is paying a total of $600 million to Dialog Semiconductor, a chipmaker based out of Europe that it's been working with since the first iPhone. According to TechCrunch, Apple is paying $300 million in cash to buy a portion of the company, including licensing power-management technologies, assets, and more than 300 employees, as well as "committing a further $300 million to make purchases from the remaining part of Dialog's business." From the report: While Dialog is describing this as an asset transfer and licensing deal, it will be Apple's biggest acquisition by far in terms of people: 300 people will be joining Apple as part of it, or about 16 percent of Dialog's total workforce. From what we understand, those who are joining have already been working tightly with Apple up to now. The teams joining are based across Livorno in Italy, Swindon in England, and Nabern and Neuaubing in Germany, near Munich, where Apple already has an operation. In some cases, Apple will be taking over entire buildings that had been owned by Dialog, and in others they will be colocating in buildings where Dialog will continue to develop its own business â" another sign of how closely the two have and will continue to work together. The Dialog employees Apple is picking up in this acquisition will report to Apple's SVP of hardware technologies, Johny Srouji. Dialog says post the acquisition, the remaining part of the business will focus more on IoT, as well as mobile, automotive, computing and storage markets, specifically as a provider of custom and configurable mixed-signal integrated circuit chips.

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BeauHD

Samsung Says Its Foldable Phone Will Be a Tablet You Can Put In Your Pocket

5 days 14 hours ago
The CEO of Samsung's mobile business, D.J. Koh, said you'll be able to use its upcoming foldable smartphone as a tablet that you can put in your pocket. While the phone has been teased and hyped up for several months, Koh stressed that it will not be a "gimmick product" that will "disappear after six to nine months after it's delivered." It'll reportedly be available globally. CNET reports: However, the foldable Samsung phone, like the Galaxy Round, will be Samsung's testbed device to see how reviewers and the market react. The Galaxy Round, which bowed vertically in the middle, was Samsung's first curve-screen phone. It's a direct ancestor to the dual curved screens we see on today's Galaxy S9 and Note 9 phones. The larger screen is important, Koh said. When Samsung first released the original Galaxy Note, he said, competitors called its device dead on arrival. Now, after generations of Notes phones, you see larger devices like the iPhone XS Max and the Pixel 3 XL, proving that consumers want bigger screens. A foldable phone would let screen sizes extend beyond 6.5 inches.

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BeauHD

Stephen Hawking's Last Paper Is Now Online

5 days 18 hours ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Motherboard: When Stephen Hawking died in March at the age of 76, the world mourned a beloved and visionary scientist. But it is some consolation that Hawking's final paper has now been published on the preprint journal ArXiv, demonstrating that even during his last days, he was still pursuing the epic cosmic questions that defined his career. Entitled "Black hole entropy and soft hair," the paper was authored by Hawking along with physicists Sasha Haco, Malcolm Perry, and Andrew Strominger. The work is the third in a series from the team and addresses Hawking's famous brainchild -- the black hole information paradox. Like many physics conundrums, the paradox emerges from the lack of coherence between quantum field theory and general relativity. On the smallest scales of matter, where atoms and quarks abound, there exists a different and seemingly contradictory set of rules to the largest scale of matter, involving stars and galaxies. The search for a "theory of everything" that reconciles these two models is one of the holy grails of modern physics, and was a lifelong fascination for Hawking. Black holes are notable flashpoints for this tension between quantum field theory and general relativity. According to the quantum rulebook, it should be impossible for information about a particle -- its spin, configuration, mass, and other features -- to be permanently deleted from the universe. But what about matter that falls into black holes, objects with a reputation of not letting anything escape once it passes the event horizon? Can information be scrubbed inside black holes? Hawking suggested that information could indeed be deleted through Hawking radiation, which is a type of theoretical radiation that can escape from inside a black hole. This process has never been empirically observed, but the radiation would supposedly be stripped of all information about its original properties -- and that would violate the rules of the universe as we know them. In his last paper, Hawking and his colleagues speculated that a phenomenon called "soft hair" might resolve the black hole information paradox. The idea is that trails of light and gravity particles might encircle the event horizon, and could store, at the very least, entropic information about matter that fell into the black hole.

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BeauHD

Tech Suffers From Lack of Humanities, Says Mozilla Head

5 days 19 hours ago
The head of the Mozilla Foundation, Mitchell Baker, is warning that companies need to diversify their hiring practices to include more people from backgrounds in philosophy and psychology if they want to tackle the problem of misinformation online. He also "warned that hiring employees who mainly come from Stem -- science, technology, engineering and maths -- will produce a new generation of technologists with the same blindspots as those who are currently in charge, a move that will 'come back to bite us,'" reports the Guardian. From the report: "Stem is a necessity, and educating more people in Stem topics clearly critical," Baker told the Guardian. "Every student of today needs some higher level of literacy across the Stem bases. "But one thing that's happened in 2018 is that we've looked at the platforms, and the thinking behind the platforms, and the lack of focus on impact or result. It crystallized for me that if we have Stem education without the humanities, or without ethics, or without understanding human behavior, then we are intentionally building the next generation of technologists who have not even the framework or the education or vocabulary to think about the relationship of Stem to society or humans or life." "Stem is a necessity, and educating more people in Stem topics clearly critical," Baker told the Guardian. "Every student of today needs some higher level of literacy across the Stem bases. "But one thing that's happened in 2018 is that we've looked at the platforms, and the thinking behind the platforms, and the lack of focus on impact or result. It crystallized for me that if we have Stem education without the humanities, or without ethics, or without understanding human behavior, then we are intentionally building the next generation of technologists who have not even the framework or the education or vocabulary to think about the relationship of Stem to society or humans or life."

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BeauHD

Facebook Is Testing An Unsend Feature For Messenger

5 days 20 hours ago
Facebook is reportedly testing a feature that will let you take back what you send via Messenger. The company said it was working on the feature back in April after TechCrunch caught it deleting messages from CEO Mark Zuckerberg. After TechCrunch asked Facebook about its progress on the Unsend feature, the company said: "Though we have nothing to announce today, we have previously confirmed that we intend to ship a feature like this and are still planning to do so." From the report: Now we have our first look at the feature thanks to TechCrunch's favorite tipster Jane Manchun Wong. She's managed to generate screenshots of a prototype Unsend button from Facebook Messenger's Android code. Currently, you can only delete messages from your own inbox -- they still remain in the recipients' inbox. But with this Unsend feature prototype, you're able to remove a message from both sides of a conversation. However, the code indicates that in the current prototype there's a "time limit." That may mean users would only have a certain amount of time after they send a message to unsend it. That would essentially be an editing window in which users could take back what they said.

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BeauHD

Google AI Claims 99 Percent Accuracy In Metastatic Breast Cancer Detection

5 days 20 hours ago
Researchers at the Naval Medical Center San Diego and Google AI, a division within Google dedicated to artificial intelligence research, are using cancer-detecting algorithms to detect metastatic tumors by autonomously evaluating lymph node biopsies. VentureBeat reports: Their AI system -- dubbed Lymph Node Assistant, or LYNA -- is described in a paper titled "Artificial Intelligence-Based Breast Cancer Nodal Metastasis Detection," published in The American Journal of Surgical Pathology. In tests, it achieved an area under the receiver operating characteristic (AUC) -- a measure of detection accuracy -- of 99 percent. That's superior to human pathologists, who according to one recent assessment miss small metastases on individual slides as much as 62 percent of the time when under time constraints. LYNA is based on Inception-v3, an open source image recognition deep learning model that's been shown to achieve greater than 78.1 percent accuracy on Stanford's ImageNet dataset. As the researchers explained, it takes as input a 299-pixel image (Inception-v3's default input size), outlines tumors at the pixel level, and, in the course of training, extracts labels -- i.e., predictions -- of the tissue patch ("benign" or "tumor") and adjusts the model's algorithmic weights to reduce error. In tests, LYNA achieved 99.3 percent slide-level accuracy. When the model's sensitivity threshold was adjusted to detect all tumors on every slide, it exhibited 69 percent sensitivity, accurately identifying all 40 metastases in the evaluation dataset without any false positives. Moreover, it was unaffected by artifacts in the slides such as air bubbles, poor processing, hemorrhage, and overstaining. LYNA wasn't perfect -- it occasionally misidentified giant cells, germinal cancers, and bone marrow-derived white blood cells known as histiocytes -- but managed to perform better than a practicing pathologist tasked with evaluating the same slides. And in a second paper published by Google AI and Verily, Google parent company Alphabet's life sciences subsidiary, the model halved the amount of time it took for a six-person team of board-certified pathologists to detect metastases in lymph nodes.

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How To See If Your Personal Data Was Stolen In the Recent Facebook Hack

5 days 21 hours ago
An anonymous reader quotes a report from Recode: Hackers stole personal data from 29 million Facebook users in a recent hack, including information like phone numbers, emails, gender, hometowns and even relationship data. Was your data stolen? (Mine was.) There's an easy way to check. Visit this Help Center page on Facebook's website and log in to your account. It will tell you whether or not your data was stolen, and which data in particular. Worth noting, while Facebook's alert says that no "payment card or credit card information" was stolen, Facebook product executive Guy Rosen did say that hackers would have been able to see the last four digits of a user's credit card through this hack. Facebook also says it will reach out to people directly if their data was stolen.

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BeauHD

Twitter and Salesforce CEOs Spat Over Who is Helping the Homeless More

5 days 22 hours ago
The CEOs of two of the world's most prominent tech companies got into an online spat on Friday over who was doing the most to address homelessness. From a report: Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff and Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey were tweeting at each other about a proposed tax on high-earning San Francisco businesses. It would redirect millions of dollars to help thousands of people who live on the streets, including outside the headquarters of both companies. Benioff tweeted that he was in favor of the tax. Dorsey tweeted that he was not -- prompting a displeased response. "Hi Jack. Thanks for the feedback," Benioff quipped. "Which homeless programs in our city are you supporting? Can you tell me what Twitter and Square & you are in for & at what financial levels? How much have you given to heading home our $37M initiative to get every homeless child off the streets?" Benioff was referring to an initiative he is spearheading for homeless families. In May he announced that he and his wife would match a $1.5m donation from his company's philanthropic arm. In a second tweet, he alleged that Dorsey had failed to contribute to the city's homeless programs, public hospitals and public schools, despite earning billions and receiving a tax break to relocate in a deprived part of town. Dorsey did not respond.

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msmash

World's Fastest Camera Shoots 10 Trillion Frames a Second

5 days 22 hours ago
bbsguru shares a report from New Atlas: Slow-motion video has always been fun to watch, with the best rigs usually shooting on the scale of thousands of frames per second. But now the world's fastest camera, developed by researchers at Caltech and INRS, blows them out of the water, capturing the world at a mind-boggling 10 trillion frames per second -- fast enough to probe the nanoscale interactions between light and matter. For the new imaging technique, the team started with compressed ultrafast photography (CUP), a method that it is capable of 100 billion fps. That's nothing to scoff at by itself, but it's still not fast enough to really capture what's going on with ultrafast laser pulses, which occur on the scale of femtoseconds. A femtosecond, for reference, is one quadrillionth of a second. So the team built on that technology by combining a femtosecond streak camera and a static camera, and running it through a data acquisition technique known as Radon transformation. This advanced system was dubbed T-CUP. For the first test, the camera proved its worth by capturing a single femtosecond pulse of laser light, recording 25 images that were each 400 femtoseconds apart. Through this process, the team could see the changes in the light pulse's shape, intensity and angle of inclination, in much slower motion than ever before.

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BeauHD

The UK Invited a Robot To 'Give Evidence' In Parliament For Attention

5 days 23 hours ago
"The UK Parliament caused a bit of a stir this week with the news that it would play host to its first non-human witness," reports The Verge. "A press release from one of Parliament's select committees (groups of MPs who investigate an issue and report back to their peers) said it had invited Pepper the robot to 'answer questions' on the impact of AI on the labor market." From the report: "Pepper is part of an international research project developing the world's first culturally aware robots aimed at assisting with care for older people," said the release from the Education Committee. "The Committee will hear about her work [and] what role increased automation and robotics might play in the workplace and classroom of the future." It is, of course, a stunt. As a number of AI and robotics researchers pointed out on Twitter, Pepper the robot is incapable of giving such evidence. It can certainly deliver a speech the same way Alexa can read out the news, but it can't formulate ideas itself. As one researcher told MIT Technology Review, "Modern robots are not intelligent and so can't testify in any meaningful way." Parliament knows this. In an email to The Verge, a media officer for the Education Committee confirmed that Pepper would be providing preprogrammed answers written by robotics researchers from Middlesex University, who are also testifying on the same panel. "It will be clear on the day that Pepper's responses are not spontaneous," said the spokesperson. "Having Pepper appear before the Committee and the chance to question the witnesses will provide an opportunity for members to explore both the potential and limitations of such technology and the capabilities of robots." MP Robert Halfon, the committee's chair, told education news site TES that inviting Pepper was "not about someone bringing an electronic toy robot and doing a demonstration" but showing the "potential of robotics and artificial intelligence." He added: "If we've got the march of the robots, we perhaps need the march of the robots to our select committee to give evidence."

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